What Are the Most Important Slovenian Writers and Books?

Literature and poetry became a distinct way to express emotions and the way of thinking. It is the intellectual art that can be created by highly creative and critical people. Therefore, the national writers are usually the presenters of their own culture, the voice of a majority.

Slovenia has a decent number of famous national loved writers. The list includes novelists like Vitomil Zupan, Lojze Kovačič, and Boris Pahor, poets like Srečko Kosovel, playwrights like Ivan Cankar, philosophers like Slavoj Žižek, and national figures like France Prešeren or Ivan Cankar.

Here, we will include writers of all the sorts, starting from modern Slovenian literature, through greatest play writers, and even up to most well-known Slovenian philosophers.

Vitomil Zupan

If to characterize him in just several words, he is a writer partisan survivor. Moreover, the most well-known epithet of Zupan is the Slovene Hemingway. Quite an extraordinary description, isn’t it?

The life of Vitomil was unlucky or lucky to happen during the Second World War. Thus, this human tragedy brought too much tragedy in the personal life of the writer. However, Zupan had a hard die. There is a story that he played Russian roulette, and shot a friend in the head, killing him.

The most famous piece of Vitomil Zupan is Menuet za kitaro (A Minuet for Guitar, 1975). Now, it is defined as a true classic of the Slovenian literature. However, at those times, it was almost his life. The novel tells a story about the years the author spent with the Slovene Partisans. His second important novel was Rojstvo v nevihti (Birth in a Storm), and he was awarded his first Prešeren Award the year of its publication.

Despite already being a national hero, Vitomil Zupan was sentenced to 18 years due to the perversion of his writing. Even after his release, he didn’t stop to write, this time under the pseudonym Langus.

Srečko Kosovel

The one who lived the least from our today’s list. It is easy to gain popularity if you are a novelist. However, Kosovel didn’t search for easy ways, so he was passionate about prose. Now, he is now considered one of central Europe’s major modernist poets. Very unfortunately, he lived only 22 years, because if he lived more, maybe, he would become one of the main poets in human history.

Kosovel was an expressionist, a satirist, an avant-garde poet, as well as a defender of Slovenian language resisting cruel Italianization of the Slovene areas annexed by Italy. He and his friends from the University of Ljubljana established a literary magazine called Lepa Vida, where he contributed as an editor. After that, Kosovel published the first collection of his early poems called Zlati čoln (“Golden Boat”).

After a performance in the Yugoslavian town, Zagorje, he was waiting for the train to Ljubljana and caught a cold, which suddenly developed into meningitis. The further tragic faith is known already.

Lojze Kovačič

A child of Slovenian patriotism. He might have an ideal life in Switzerland, the country that stayed neutral for a long time, the country that didn’t suffer from any Hitler attack. However, the life path was chosen as another, even not by him but by his father. Lojze was born in Basel, Switzerland, from a Slovenian father and a German mother. When his father refused to accept Swiss citizenship, the family moved to a village in Lower Carniola and then to Ljubljana.

His most famous novel, The Newcomers is considered now as the greatest example of the Slovenian prose. This piece is extensive, difficult, canonical, and moreover, autobiographical. It tells a story about their moving from Switzerland to Ljubljana.

Lojze studied Slavic and Germanic Studies in the Faculty of Education of the University of Ljubljana. On the other side, he found it interesting to work as an art and puppetry teacher in Ljubljana. Therefore, he was involved in different variations of art as well as he was doing his own one.

Boris Pahor

The oldest is still living one iconic writer and national hero. Now, he is 107 years old! This already deserved a medal for surviving World War I, World War II, Cold War, and happily living in independent Slovenia since 1991. Furthermore, he even “overlived” his spouse, younger than him almost for 10 years.

The most famous writer’s book is Necropolis. It was translated into English, French, German, Catalan, Finnish, Italian, Serbian, Spanish, Dutch, Croatian, Portuguese, and Swedish. Boris is a Nazi concentration camp survivor, so in that book, he experiences the second visit Natzweiler-Struthof camp twenty years after his relocation to Dachau.

The writer expressed strong disapproval of Tito’s ideas. He was a member of the Slovene Partisans. The French government awarded him the Legion of Honor, and the Austrian government prized the Cross of Honor for Science and Art. In his own country, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature by the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Art. Moreover, he married only when he was 99, to the author Radoslava Premrl, and dedicated one book to her.

Ivan Cankar

The iconic figure of the Slovenian theater. He was a playwright, essayist, writer, poet as well as a political activist. Cankar is usually compared with Franz Kafka and James Joyce, and this is not the end of his achievements.

In his literature baggage, there are approximately 30 books, and he is considered as the first as the best presenter of Slovenian modernism. Usually, when people are talking about his most iconic works, they list a play Hlapci (“Serfs”), the satire Pohujšanje v dolini Šentflorijanski (Scandal in St. Florian Valley), and the novel Na klancu (On the Hill).

France Prešeren

He is the most important personality for the entire Slovene nation. His poem is now used for a national hymn of the Republic of Slovenia. There is Prešeren Day, a public holiday celebrated on 8 February. The cultural holiday was established in 1945 in order to raise the cultural consciousness about the national identity of a Slovenian person after World War II, however, it was declared and proclaimed as a work-free day in 1991. There is the Grand Prešeren Award, which is the highest prize for the biggest contribution to the Slovenian artists’ life. It is awarded every year on the Prešeren Day by the Prešeren Fund.

So, what did he do for the entire Slovene nation? First of all, France spread the Slovenian culture around the world. The evidence of this can be the fact that his poems were translated into English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, Slovak, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Bengali, as well as to all the languages of former Yugoslavia. Moreover, he introduced new genres to Slovenian literature. For instance, he wrote the first Slovene ballad and the first Slovene epic.

France was considered as the chief representative of the Romantic school in Slovenia. Undoubtedly, his pieces were full of emotions, sentiments, and deep meanings. Furthermore, he was one of the greatest European Romanticists, as he was recognized not only regionally, but as one of the developers of European literature standards.

Nevertheless, he became famous only after his death on 8 February 1849 at the age of 48. Only in 1866, when Josip Jurčič and Josip Stritar published a new edition of his collection of poems, they spread fame about France. In that edition, Stritar published an essay in the preface, where he described the value of Prešeren’s books in the wider context of the European literature. Later, the essay was considered as one of the most influential essays in Slovene history.

Slavoj Žižek

He is a famous philosopher nowadays. Now, Slavoj is a researcher at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Ljubljana and the international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities of the University of London. He is also the Global Eminent Scholar at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, as well as the Global Distinguished Professor at New York University.

Slavoj Žižek is listed in the Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy journal, where they called him “a celebrity philosopher”. His concepts are mainly based on Lacanian psychoanalysis and Hegelian idealism. He works in such areas as continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, political theory, cultural studies, art criticism, film criticism, Marxism, Hegelianism, and theology.

Writing the Conclusion

Slovenia has a long and complicated history. It experienced hard times as well as good ones. Thus, people living here did the same. Some of them were not so lucky, so they struggled and afterward were considered national heroes and famous figures like France Prešeren or Ivan Cankar. On the other side, such figures as Vitomil Zupan and Boris Pahor lived so much that they did not need public approval. They understood many senses and implemented them in their novels. It is even better than to be a national figure because you meant not only a name or a day off to people, you mean such a strong idea for readers that it will be living for ages in the hearts of them. 

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